It all started when we were scouting for a spot to have sundowners and to get a sunset photograph. Instead, we spotted a lioness and her cub sitting in golden light on an ant hill, minding their own business. Suddenly, 24 African wild dogs disrupted the scene. Chasing an impala, they raced straight towards us.
The impala swerved behind us, to be met with the lioness and her cub. Instinct kicked in and the lioness and cub joined in the hunt, pursuing a much-needed meal. The impala managed to get away by darting close to a safari vehicle behind us. Close on its heels, the lioness, propelled by her own weight, was not so agile however and collided into the back tyre of the vehicle. But the chase was not over: the hunter became the hunted when the wild dogs turned on the lioness and her cub, and the fight of their lives began.
Although I’d grown up in the African bush and experienced many amazing animal interactions, this was one of the most emotional sightings of my life. The dogs fought ferociously with the advantage of numbers, while the lioness was determined to defend her cub to the death. The tears streamed down my face with a desperate desire for the lioness and cub to make it.
And then – it was over. The dogs slunk off, scratched and bruised, with the battle lost. The battle-weary lioness found her cub, hiding in a bush, and they were reunited. The cub snuggled close to its mother while she fed it a reassuring drink.
The entire episode took 38 minutes from the sighting of the first dog, to the moment mother and cub lay exhausted together.
We followed the dogs – only to be side-tracked by a leopard silhouetted in a tree, and spotted, in fact, both a female leopard and her two cubs. What a day!
- Melonie Eva
"The Great Lion and African Wild Dog Show-Down" is one of the winners of the first leg of our PhotoTales competition.
Watch this space for our upcoming book Photo Tales that will be published soon. A perfect Christmas gift idea.